The obsolescence of religion

Old article posted in Times of India on 1st November 2015. Link here-

“Papa, are you a religious or are you a spiritual person?”, my son asked, while looking outside at the rows of trees which seemed to be travelling along with us in our journey.

“But is it not the same thing?”, I questioned back inquisitive of what was going on in his mind.


“No, it is not.”, he replied with the calmness going beyond his fourteen years. “See the nature outside, these trees, plants, birds.”, he continued, “All happy, smiling, waving and singing in the praise of the creator. They do not have a religious identity given of being a Christian, Muslim or a Sikh nor need any words to sing his glory and yet they seem to have a direct connection to the creator. That’s spiritual!”

For me, it was ‘the moment of enlightenment’.

What is religion? Religion or “Dharma” as it is defined in Sanskrit is a boundary we create of a certain set of ideals, ways and strictures to be followed by the people who subscribe to it. It could be in the form of written commands or “religious scriptures” being passed on from generations to be followed by the generations to come. Or it could be just “word of mouth” as directed by some others who have interpreted the existence (or non existence) of the creator in their own way.

Any which way, it is a set path to be followed in a particular way, if you have any dreams of achieving salvation for your soul or break free from the sufferings of this world.

When you subscribe to a particular religion, you may need to sing songs in ‘his’ glory, recite  verses or hear the holy sermon as written in some scriptures and your recital of those words over a period of time could enable ‘his’ eyes and ears to open for you.

You may also need to do the above at certain ‘clean’ places in ‘his’ specially constructed houses or places of worship or some earmarked place inside your house where it will become ‘proper’ for him to meet you as he is a holy guest and should be kept away from the other filthy places that you create by your acts and deeds.

As a special bonus given to you for being designated as a religious person, you are entitled to carry out any activities that even you yourself may consider to be unjust or immoral, so long as you can relieve yourself of all such burdens and be “pure” again by coming back to “him” and pleading for forgiveness while agreeing to be his continued humble follower.

There may also be some obligations or ‘religious duties’ which come along with which may include for example killing fellow human beings in “his” name or in the name of the religion that you subscribe to, if there seems to be a perceived threat on your religion as directed by ‘his’ representatives. But you need not worry, as carrying out of such activities is your stamped visa to ‘his kingdom’ and the fastest way of making him happy and getting ‘his’ blessings.

In short you are bound by the limits that religion sets for you and if you deviate, ‘his’ wrath will fall upon you as he has no mercy on people who do not follow his rules and you may be directed to hell or the worst in the world beyond.

To me following such religions seemed similar to living in a dictator’s world.

Spirituality sets you free.

Religion belongs to a group. Spirituality is personal. They could co-exist but while religion sets boundaries to stay in, the spirit soars as it knows no religion, no limits, needs no words to praise him and can do it anytime, anywhere, anyway! The spirit is the fire that burns in this earthly body and comes from beyond and goes to beyond.

When one knows the existence of the spirit and its direct connect with the creator, there is no journey to take looking for him, no salvation to seek from the world in which one lives. Only pure enjoyment, happiness  and marvel at the blessings the creator showers on us every day.

Perhaps the spirit in us is the creator (or god, allah or bhagwan as we may call him or her) himself or to put it simply we are an iota of him. Then if we ourselves are his iota, there is no quest, no thirst left. You can meet a person and feel happy to meet another iota of the same god while looking beyond his race, religion or colour, the same way as you may look at a flower and enjoy its beauty and fragrance.

The knowledge that god lives in us as our spirit inside will always enable true good in thoughts and deeds to flow at all times as pure as the source from where it comes.

I continued my journey merrily singing along with the wind blowing merrily,

“I searched the world for beauty, from Afghanistan to Italy,

but sorrow, pain and sadness, could I find in my kitty.

And then the Good Lord whispered, ” Son, look for deep inside you!”

And Lo, did I find myself;  and this world full of beauty.”


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